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Wolf calls special session on sex abuse amendment

Plus, inside Rozzi’s rise to Pa. House speaker.


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Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen
Monday, January 9, 2023
Abuse amendment, 2020 recount, Rozzi's record, rejected votes, school board shuffle, congressional chaos, and the best donuts in Pennsylvania. 

Gov. Tom Wolf has called on the Pennsylvania legislature to begin a special session today with the express purpose of passing a constitutional amendment allowing adult victims of childhood sexual abuse more time to sue the perpetrators.  

Newly minted state House Speaker Mark Rozzi, a survivor of clergy abuse himself, quickly backed the call, vowing to halt all other lower chamber action until the issue is addressed.

The General Assembly backed such an amendment several years ago, but a Wolf administration blunder kept it from reaching Pennsylvania voters, who have final say over changes to the state's constitution.

Read Spotlight PA's full report: Wolf asks Pa. legislature to advance relief for child sex abuse survivors during special session.

MORE COVERAGE: Republicans were the primary architects of Rozzi's successful and largely unexpected state House speaker bid.

Democrats were unified in voting for the longtime moderate from their own ranks, but a contingent of Republicans was integral in his ascent — even writing the acceptance speech Rozzi gave after winning the post.

New Spotlight PA reporting reveals Democrats were aware of efforts to pick off one of their own but were surprised to learn that Rozzi, of Berks County, had accepted a deal with a victory-securing faction of the GOP.

In the wake of his election, both parties have attempted to claim loyalty. Democrats say he's privately assured them that he's still a Democrat, while Republicans point to his public vow to serve as an independent speaker — an apparent condition of their deal. Rozzi isn't commenting.

Read the full report: The behind-the-scenes story of Mark Rozzi’s surprising rise to Pa. House speaker.


"I was doing talk radio at the time and tweeting often to solicit commentary. This is not uncommon for people in the media, but as I look back on that tweet, it was insensitive, outright wrong and I apologize."

—Democratic Allegheny County Council candidate Joanna Doven apologizing for this 2015 tweet amid mounting progressive criticism
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A replica of the Parthenon in Greece at Pittsburgh's Carnegie Museum of Art, as seen by yours truly on a recent tour. Send us your photos by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.

A miniature replica of the Parthenon in Greece is shown at a museum in Pittsburgh.
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.2020 RECOUNT: Activists aligned with a voter fraud conspiracy group will get the hand recount of 2020 presidential ballots they sought in Lycoming County. Spotlight PA and Votebeat report county commissioners ordered the recount of roughly 60,000 ballots under pressure from Audit the Vote PA activists and against the advice of the local election director. The recount starts today.

Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.INDY STREAK: Mark Rozzi, the longtime Democratic state rep. from Berks County, is speaker of the Pennsylvania House thanks to a vow to serve as an independent, which earned him a critical sliver of GOP support. How that pledge pans out remains to be seen, but The Inquirer (paywall) examined his voting history for signs of an independent streak and found a major alignment with Dem leaders

Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.BALLOT BLOCKS: Of the more than 16,000 mail ballots disqualified for improper envelopes, signatures, or dates in Pennsylvania's most recent election, more than two-thirds belonged to registered Democrats, state data show. Prior reporting by Spotlight PA and Votebeat found that mail ballots rejected for missing dates disproportionately came from communities of color across the commonwealth.

Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.COUNTYWIDE: State Sen. Rosemary Brown (R., Monroe) has proposed a tryout of what would be a seismic change for Pennsylvania school governance. Brown is seeking a pilot of paid countywide school boards, a dramatic departure from the current hyperlocal patchwork, the Morning Call (paywall) reports. Brown's office predicts cost savings, but some worry school funding inequities would be amplified.

Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.DELEGATE DELAY: Pennsylvania's U.S. representatives-elect have finally been sworn in after last week's marathon House speaker election delayed the crucial step. Politico's captivating tick-tock of the showdown between Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, his allies, and several GOP foes includes a cameo from U.S. Rep. and Chief Deputy Whip Guy Reschenthaler (R., Pa.) during a key confrontation.
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SPEED CAMERAS: A state study credits speed cameras on Philadelphia's Roosevelt Boulevard with a 36% drop in crashes, fatalities, and serious injuries on the notoriously unsafe corridor. The Inquirer (paywall) reports the study advocates for the cameras in communities statewide.

JANUARY 6: U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Bucks County was the only Republican to join a lawmaker observance on the second anniversary of the Jan. 6 attack in D.C. on Friday, missing a conference-wide call.

BY THE NUMBERS: This year's Farm Show butter sculpture contains 366,400 grams of fat, would cost $2,860 if sold as sticks in a supermarket, and would take the average person 153.8 years to eat, Billy Penn reports.

NEW RECRUIT: A 64-year-old retired lawyer named Daniel Donovan was
among the crop of new officers sworn in as Harrisburg police last week, PennLive (paywall) reports. Donovan is the oldest city cadet on record.

BEST DONUTS: Oram's Donut Shop in Beaver Falls is Food & Wine's best Pennsylvania donut shop for the second year running. But this time it's sharing the spotlight and honor with Philadelphia's Federal Donuts.

Unscramble and send your answer to We'll shout out winners here, and one each week will get some Spotlight PA swag. Answers submitted by 6 p.m. on issue date will be counted.

Friday's answer: Neophyte

Congrats to our weekly winner: Charlotte B.

Congrats to our daily winners: MaryAnn T., Becky C., Don H., Craig W., John P., Bruce B., Michael P., Vicki U., Brian B., Barbara F., Kimberly D., Joel S., Dan W., Jon W., Susan N.-Z., David S., Kim C., Eddy Z., Wendy A., Moon M., Jane R., Chris L., Elaine C., Marty M., Fred O., Dianne K., Dennis M., James B., Bill S., Kathy S., John F., David W., Fred M., Scott R., and Jessie S.
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